Summer Jumpers

Andrew Gibson has a look at the upcoming National Hunt fixtures, shortlisting potential horses of note, puts focus on Cartmel racecourse and reviews some of last week's action.

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THE WEEK AHEAD: GOING TO THE WELLS

Wells De Lune has competed at Cartmel on six occasions and his record thus far reads: 1 1 1 1 1 3 – furthermore his only defeat in this sequence came when he was racing over a distance well beyond his best. He is entered in two races at the course on Monday and my personal preference would be to see him compete over the shorter distance.

He won the two miles one and a half furlong chase on the same card last year and would hold a strong chance of following up in 2019 despite having to compete off an 8lb higher mark.

Two other horses I have noted previously appear set to line up against him assuming he takes his place in the 3.15 on Monday. Demi Sang and Nietzsche will both hold perfectly sound claims if reproducing their best form; however, I do believe that Wells De Lune is the most straightforward of that trio and I hope to get involved accordingly.

He is my most likely wager of the week as he is versatile with ground and will surely attempt to make all the running once again; thus offering a simple trading opportunity at worst.

Peter Bowen has Francky Du Berlais entered in the novice’ chase at Cartmel on Saturday. He has plenty to find on official ratings with two of his rivals in this six strong field; consequently, although anything can happen in these small field novice events, I will still prefer to have Francky Du Berlais on my side in a low-grade handicap chase.

He was beaten into fourth place on his handicap chasing debut at Market Rasen recently; however, that may well have been a decent race for the grade. Therefore I would prefer to give ‘Francky’ another chance the next time we see him in a handicap. (Assuming he does not defy the official ratings tomorrow!)

As regular readers will know, I have been keeping a close eye on the form of the Nicky Henderson yard of late. I suspect it is a case of making hay while the sun shines with Jen’s Boy who is entered at Worcester on Wednesday. He showed improved form to win at Market Rasen last Saturday and will surely remain competitive off his new mark if returning to race next week.

Half an hour earlier Nicky Henderson’s only other entry on the card will have a strong each-way chance in the mares’ bumper. Whether or not Crystal Gazing will be available at an each-way price is another matter altogether! My personal preference would be to consider the pair for each way double purposes in the unlikely event of the market allowing such a wager.

Play The Ace is entered to run in the 2m 7f handicap chase at Worcester next Wednesday. He is an extremely well handicapped horse on his best form and he could easily win two or three in a row if he has retained most of his ability.

His latest performance at Perth, however, was very off putting; consequently, he is a horse I would only consider playing to small stakes when trading at a big price until he shows something different on the race track.

COURSE IN FOCUS: CARTMEL

We have the two day fixture at Cartmel to look forward to this Bank Holiday weekend.

At first glance Jennie Candlish’s record at the course over the last five years does not look that inspiring. Her horses have a record of 4/30 in this period of time and a loss would have been made if backing every runner.

Jennie’s runners in non-handicap races are 0/9 whilst her handicappers have a record of 4/21. (All stats courtesy of Proform Racing)

It is actually the yard’s performance in 2019 that encourages more interest in her entries over the weekend.

Jennie Candlish has had nine runners in 2019 at the Cumbrian track and her form figures read: 2 3 1 3 1 4 2 4 2.

The Staffordshire handler has two runners on Saturday and the first is in a novice event so can be discounted if we base our assessment purely on the stats (cue a 100/1 winner!)

Her other entry is in the 2m 6f handicap hurdle and she is worth a second look. Stop Talking has form on soft and good ground and performed well the last time we saw her at Uttoxeter at the end of July.

The early booking of Richard Johnson adds further interest and hopefully she can go well and add to the trainer’s excellent run of form at the course this season.

At Cartmel on Monday Candlish holds two entries at the early declaration stage. Red Giant and For Jim will both have each-way claims providing the ground dries out between now and race time. Red Giant would be competing in a particularly complicated looking affair, whilst For Jim’s race appears to be only marginally easier.

He is a progressive seven-year-old and will be competing off a career high hurdles mark in the final race on the card. For Jim has won three of his latest five races and has been on an upward curve since May of this year.

He won in impressive fashion the last time we saw him at Perth and has a good chance of performing well again off his 100-rating providing the going is on the faster side of good to soft.

LOOKING BACK: MAISON A RUNNER TO TRACK

Definitely An Oscar looked like a mare to follow after her smooth success in a Warwick maiden hurdle last November. She was then strongly supported to win a very hot looking mares’ race at Cheltenham the following month. My post-race notes from that day read:

‘She moved up to join the leaders well before the second last hurdle and was in the right place on the outside. She made a mistake at this obstacle and dropped out very quickly thereafter as if something was amiss’.

We did not see her again until the following March when she again failed to finish off her race, this time in a lesser race at Ludlow. It was no surprise, therefore, to see that Definitely An Oscar had received wind surgery in April which was four months before her latest racecourse appearance at Newton Abbot earlier this week.

She travelled and jumped well on Tuesday and finished her race off powerfully after being briefly outpaced off the home turn. I strongly suspect she won her race with a lot more in hand than her narrow winning margin would suggest.

Definitely An Oscar will be penalised for this success (despite being disqualified for her jockey weighing in light) but can progress again when stepped up in distance. We can only guess that her improved display was, at least, in part due to the wind surgery.

If she stays sound in this department, she has a very good chance of following up her latest victory sooner rather than later. Consequently I have marked her up as a mare to follow closely over the next few weeks.

Of the horses mentioned previously I noticed that See The Sea was gifted another easy lead when winning comfortably again at Bangor on Monday. As impressive as she has appeared in her latest two successes, I hope to have the opportunity to oppose her when she appears likely to be taken on up front in a tougher race if trading short.

Lil Rockerfeller once again struggled over fences when finishing third at Southwell last Saturday. Personally, I would have preferred him to have won impressively to, at least potentially, create the opportunity to oppose him over more substantial fences at a grade one course in the future.

After this latest effort it is difficult to imagine his trainer persevering with him as a chaser for much longer. Moreover he is only an eight year old and, although his win to run ratio is quite poor, he could still pick up plenty of prize money over hurdles in the next year or two.

Decor Irlandais’s hat trick bid was thwarted at Sligo earlier this month when he was narrowly beaten by the Victor Wilson-trained Mon Storm. When a horses winning run has come to an end the horse in question can sometimes become a little forgotten about in the market, perhaps, due to the belief that they have ‘reached the ceiling’ of their ability.

Prior to that recent defeat he had won two races in a row at Cartmel in impressive style. If anything I expected to see him stepped up to three miles the next time we saw him; therefore I was not especially disappointed when he was beaten over an intermediate distance at Sligo.

Decor Irlandais is entered in two races at Cartmel on Monday and will be of interest whichever one he lines up in.

When Decor Irlandais won at Cartmel in June he beat a horse of Micky Hammond’s into third place. I meant to mention Maison D’Or in one of my earlier blogs but forgot to do so. Thankfully he has not run since and so he remains a horse I will want on my side when he returns to the track. He stayed on strongly from a long way back on that last day and, consequently, I will be very keen on his claims when he is stepped up to compete over three miles.

Summer Jumpers
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